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As firefighters hope that they may have finally turned the corner on the wildfires that have ravaged northern California, especially Napa and Sonoma counties, wineries are beginning to try to get a sense of the devastation they and the area’s tourist industry have suffered.
Though three out of every four bottles of California wine are made in the Central Valley, Napa and Sonoma counties’ more than 100,000 acres of vineyards attract the lion’s share of the 24 million tourists who visit California wineries every year. According to the Wine Institute, in 2015 the 325,000 people involved in the state wine industry brought in over $57 billion, of which $7.2 billion was from tourism.
At least 40 people are dead and over 200 missing in the affected areas since the the northern California fires were sparked on Oct. 8. They have scorched an estimated 220,000 acres, and left nearly 100,000 people permanently or temporarily homeless.
When the wildfires struck, Napa had completed 90 percent of its harvest, and Sonoma as much as 85 percent, according to Wired, but winemakers and oenophiles are now concerned that the smoke taint will make the the product unpalatable and drive down prices. It may be impossible to get a sense of the damage done until the wildfires are finally put out, though.
The Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have been keeping a tally of the wineries hit by the fires, with the Merc counting at least 22 in Napa and Sonoma as of Tuesday, Oct. 17, including acclaimed and award-winning estates like Storybrook Mountain Vineyards, Signorella Estate Vineyards and Segassia Vineyard, with damage ranging from relatively minor to total losses. Several popular hotels in the area were also reported to have been destroyed, including the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel and parts of the Fountaingrove Inn.
The words “in the affected areas” and “permanently or temporarily” were added to the third paragraph to further emphasize that other counties besides Sonoma have suffered damage, and that all those who have been evacuated haven’t necessarily seen their homes destroyed.
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